Sunday 25 September 2016

Bible Book:

“But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.’” (v. 25)

Luke 16:19 Sunday 25 September 2016

Psalm: Psalm 146 


Jesus' parable of the (unnamed) rich man and Lazarus is notintended to paint a literal picture of heaven and hell, but drawstogether several threads in the Gospel narrative relating to thetopsy-turvy nature of the kingdom of God. It suggests that thematerial fortunes of this world will be reversed - and that thiswill come as a shock to many people. Wealth and the rigorousdemands of discipleship constitute a key theme for Luke, as doesthe reversal of earthly fortunes in the kingdom of heaven (eg Luke1:52-53; 6:21-22).

Dr Peggy McIntosh talks about the ' invisible knapsack' of privilege. There are many differentkinds of privilege, and most of us wear at least one knapsack. Shesuggests that while we may be willing to acknowledge that one groupof people (eg those living in poverty) is disadvantaged, westruggle to acknowledge our own advantages. In order to see theworld clearly and redress imbalances (so that the world todaybetter reflects the kingdom of heaven), we need to unpack ourinvisible knapsacks and acknowledge the invisible provisions, maps,passports, visas, clothes and tools that make some aspects of ourlives much easier than they are for others. The danger, if theknapsack remains invisible, is that we will assume that we areentitled to such advantages.

The rich man in the parable seems not to have acted in a waythat was deliberately malicious; instead, he simply failed toacknowledge his own privilege and to take the opportunity beforehim to redress the imbalance by lifting Lazarus (whose name, itseems, he knew) out of poverty. There are clear parallels to Matthew 25:31-46 - those who did not activelyseek to serve those who were hungry, naked and in prison weresurprised to find they had missed an opportunity to minister toJesus, the Son of God.

To Ponder

  • What 'invisible knapsacks' do you wear? How does it feel toacknowledge those areas of life in which you are privileged?
  • It's easy, on reading this parable, to feel very guilty aboutmissed opportunities to do good. What kind of response do you thinkJesus was hoping for?

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